Sunday, October 28, 2018

Process Industrial Engineering for Productivity Improvement - Training Programme - Prof Narayana Rao K.V.S.S., NITIE, Bombay



Process Industrial Engineering for Productivity Improvement


Topics in the Programme

Process Analysis using Method Study - Methods Efficiency Analysis
Operation Analysis
Machine Work Study
Productivity Based on Tooling, Jigs and Fixtures
Optimizing Machine Operations - Six Sigma
OEE Analysis and Improvement
New Equipment/Technology Economic Analysis
Replacement Economic Analysis
Applied Industrial Engineering - New Technologies - Industry 4.0 - Industrial Engineering 4.0


Principles of Industrial Engineering - Taylor - Narayana Rao


Presented by Narayana Rao in IISE Annual Conference 2017 at Pittsburgh, USA.

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Functions of Industrial Engineering

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Focus Areas of Industrial Engineering - Curriculum and Practice Areas

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Process Industrial Engineering - Introduction

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Industry 4.0 - Technology and Productivity Increase - Industrial Engineering 4.0 - Productivity Science

Google Search for: productivity "industry 4.0"



What dimensions, characteristics, parameters or variables of Industry 4.0 (IIoT) increase productivity. Industrial engineers have to identify these antecedents of productivity in their research studies. Then, in the productivity engineering activity, they can use the knowledge to create components, products, systems, machining, fabrication, forming, assembly, and maintenance processes to make them more productive.

An attempt is being in this note to collect propositions and hypotheses so far presented in various papers and articles.


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28 October 2018

2018

Honda Car India adopted 3D Printing in its welding shop.  The 2018 Honda Amaze is the first Honda to use 3D printing.

3D Printing has reduced the weight of the components used in assembling of Honda cars by 70 per cent and has also lowered the cost of welding by an impressive 60 per cent.
https://auto.ndtv.com/news/honda-car-india-waves-into-the-industry-4-0-agenda-with-3d-printing-1938272



2015
Mechanisms of Increasing Productivity in Industry 4.0 Systems

1. Radically short product development processes
2. Virtual engineering of complete value  chain
3. Revolutionary short value chains
4. Better performing than engineered.
Industry 4.0 as Factor of Productivity increase
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285597330_Industry_40_as_a_factor_of_productivity_increase/download


2014

Mine Excavator assistance systems based on sensors and IoT such as “Swing to Truck / Return to Tuck” could avoid delays and carry out movement patterns more quickly.  The case study by Siemens  showed that about four seconds could be saved per cycle. This would mean that the number of trucks each excavator could fill in a day would increase by 12 percent, thus raising productivity and reducing costs.
https://www.siemens.com/innovation/en/home/pictures-of-the-future/digitalization-and-software/digital-assistants-motion-automation-in-mining-vehicles.html


Reduction of Product Development Cost by 20% - Cap Gemini Client Story

To facilitate external partner collaboration in product development, a cloud based, digitally enabled agile collaboration network that provided 'Single Source of Truth' to all involved in product development was developed. This shortened time to market for an aerospace engine company and reduced product development cost by 20%.
Source: Industry 4.0 - Cap Gemini Consulting View: Sharpening the Picture beyond the Hype.
2014 Report


Supply Chain Productivity Improvement/Cost Reduction Opportunity - 20%
Connected supply chain has cost reduction potential of 20% due to increased visibility and process automation possibilities.
Source: Industry 4.0 - Cap Gemini Consulting View: Sharpening the Picture beyond the Hype.
2014 Report. Also 2011 report on Digital Transformation of Supply Chains.

External Supply Defect Rate Reduced to 1 ppm through 3D Xray inspection coupled to IoT based Cloud Computing/Edge Computing.
In piston production, each item is controlled through a data matrix code and subjected to 3D X ray inspection that is compared with a 3D model using computer and defectives segregated. The delivered defect rate came down to  1 ppm.
Source: Industry 4.0 - Cap Gemini Consulting View: Sharpening the Picture beyond the Hype.
2014 Report.and Automobil Produktion, Issue 5, 2013, p.74,







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18.1.2018

Industry 4. 0 IoT has to the potential to improve productivity


Industrial internet - connection between machines

Consumer internet - connection between people.

IoT approaches allow firms to fundamentally integrate, sensing, analytics and data control into engineering (manufacturing) and business processes.


Papers indicating that IoT has the potential to improve productivity



In the ongoing decade, productivity will be driven by internet of things.

IoT technology reduces cost of customization. Hence custom made products can be manufactured at lower cost.

Productivity Leap with IoT - Special Focus on Global Asset Management and Smart Lighting

2013 VTT Technical Research Centre Finland


Whether you interests are  motivated by cost savings or improved revenue, the IoT is uniquely positioned to help with both.

What you need to know about IoT:  The right information can change the world.

AT&T 2016 report

80 billion euros spent on IoT solutions will create a benefit of one trillion for the EU28 economy.

The value will come from three sources:

Increased productivity of business organizations (430 billion euros)
Savings in power etc. by consumers (300 billion euros)
Increase in health of people will provide more working time (210 billion euros)

Every euro spent can produce up to 12 euros benefit.

The Internet of Things: A New Path to European Prosperity

1Trillion opportunity
A.T.Kearney,2016


The first two (IT) waves gave rise to huge productivity gains and growth across the economy. While the value chain was transformed, however, products themselves were largely unaffected. Now, in the third wave, IT is becoming an integral part of the product itself. Another leap in productivity in the economy will be unleashed by these new and better products.

The third wave of IT-driven transformation thus has the potential to be the biggest yet, triggering even more innovation, productivity gains, and economic growth than the previous two.

Smart, connected products have three core elements: physical components, “smart” components, and connectivity components.

How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition
Michael E. PorterJames E. Heppelmann
Harvard Business Review, NOVEMBER 2014 ISSUE

Accenture estimates the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Arguably the biggest driver of productivity and growth in the next decade, the Industrial Internet of Things will accelerate the reinvention of sectors that account for almost two-thirds of world output.
https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-industrial-internet-of-things


Dimensions, Characteristics, Parameters or Variables of Industry 4.0 (IIoT) that  Increase Productivity.


*Low cost monitoring of products, equipment and persons

*Low cost control through software embedded in the product or the cloud

*Low cost optimization.

Smart, connected products can apply algorithms and analytics to in-use or historical data to dramatically improve output, utilization, and efficiency. In wind turbines, for instance, a local microcontroller can adjust each blade on every revolution to capture maximum wind energy.

How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition
Michael E. PorterJames E. Heppelmann
FROM THE NOVEMBER 2014 ISSUE

*Enabling  measurements in demanding conditions with low maintenance cost and without hindering production.

VTT has developed a solution for measuring temperature, inclination, humidity, strain and other characteristics from machines and inside structures (e.g. walls) at distances up to 10 m, without batteries in the sensor. The principle is based on powering the sensor with radio frequency energy waves and using the return transmission to read out the resulting data (see Link ‘Zero Power Sensor’). The IPR protected technology allows for several individually identifiable sensors to be operated in the same space.
https://ercim-news.ercim.eu/en101/special/pro-iot-improving-the-productivity-of-companies-by-using-the-iot

*Energy-efficient communications

A platform has been developed for energy-efficient communications between mobile devices that identifies the most appropriate combination of technologies for different exchanges

https://ercim-news.ercim.eu/en101/special/pro-iot-improving-the-productivity-of-companies-by-using-the-iot


*Maintenance when needed

The Internet of Things will help individual companies to limit the waste.  Products which are connected to the web can communicate how they're being used or their current status. This data will be used to schedule maintenance when it's really needed, instead of the current  set of relatively inefficient rules.
 https://www.infoq.com/articles/iot-impact-productivity


*Predictive analytics based on data collected on products will be used to reduce failures and improve product design. This will boost the efficiency of products and contribute to productivity in user organizations.
https://www.infoq.com/articles/iot-impact-productivity

*The IoT will change how manufacturers and service companies interact with customers. Reliance on massive call centers and customer service departments will be greately reduced and  IoT enabled products will be directly connected to a service assessing their condition and taking relevant action.
https://www.infoq.com/articles/iot-impact-productivity

*Smart lighting

*Smart heating

*Smart cities

* Machine level information system
Each machine can be aggregated into a single information system that accelerates learning across the machine portfolio.

Source: Industrial Internet: Pusing the boundaries of Minds and Machines, Peter C Evans and Marco Annunziata, GE, 2012



Drivers That  Facilitate Transition to Industry 4.0 Production Systems at National Level

WEF - The Readiness for the Future of Production Assessment (Industry 4.0) - 2018


The driver is the construct used for the assessment. Six drivers are used in the assessment,

Driver 1 -Technology & Innovation

Concepts of the Construct


Technology Platform
• Availability of ICT
• Use of ICT
• Digital Security & Data

Ability to Innovate
• Industry Activity
• Research Intensity
• Available Financing

Driver 2 - Human Capital


Concepts of the Construct

Current Labour Force
• Labour Force Capabilities
Future Labour Force
• Migration
• Education Outcomes
• Agility & Adaptability

Driver 3 - Global Trade & Investment


Concepts of the Construct

Trade
• Trade Openness
• Trade Facilitation and Market Access
Investment
• Investment and Financing
Infrastructure
• Transportation and Electricity

Driver 4 - Institutional Framework


Concepts of the Construct

Government
• Efficiency & Effectiveness
• Rule of Law

Driver 5 - Sustainable Resources


Concepts of the Construct

Sustainability
• Energy and Emissions
• Water

Driver 6 - Demand Environment


Concepts of the Construct

Demand
• Market Size

Consumer Base
• Consumer Sophistication


The Readiness for the Future of Production Assessment (Industry 4.0)

Key Hypotheses

The Readiness for the Future of Production Assessment (Industry 4.0) developed by WEF is
intended to stimulate discussion and advance further research.

There are two key hypotheses and working assumptions that are fundamental to the assessment’s framework that needs to be tested and researched over time.

1. The most important drivers of future readiness are Technology & Innovation, Human Capital, Institutional Framework and Global Trade & Investment.

2. Scale is not a prerequisite for future readiness.

Download the report - WEF - The Readiness for the Future of Production Assessment (Industry 4.0) - 2018



http://www3.weforum.org/docs/FOP_Readiness_Report_2018.pdf


Examples of Productivity, Cost saving, Waste Elimination and Lower Cost of Products


Verizon is saving more than 55 million kWh annually across its 26 data centers by deploying sensors and control points throughout the data center by connecting wirelessly.

IoT Primer - Making Sense of the next Mega Trend - Goldman Sachs
Sep 3, 2014


Smart street lights equipped with sensors are saving cities energy and money by detecting pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles so that lights brighten and dim when they sense movement

IoT to identify and keep track of repairs on city roads.

State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016
Verizon, 2016


In heavy machinery, Schindler’s PORT Technology reduces elevator wait times by as much as 50% by predicting elevator demand patterns, calculating the fastest time to destination, and assigning the appropriate elevator to move passengers quickly.

 In the energy sector, ABB’s smart grid technology enables utilities to analyze huge amounts of real-time data across a wide range of generating, transforming, and distribution equipment (manufactured by ABB as well as others), such as changes in the temperature of transformers and secondary substations. This alerts utility control centers to possible overload conditions, allowing adjustments that can prevent blackouts before they occur.

 In consumer goods, Big Ass ceiling fans sense and engage automatically when a person enters a room, regulate speed on the basis of temperature and humidity, and recognize individual user preferences and adjust accordingly.

How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition
Michael E. PorterJames E. Heppelmann
Harvard Business Review, NOVEMBER 2014 ISSUE

Automation of HR Processes - Productivity in HR department and also time saving of employees

https://www.peoplematters.in/article/hr-analytics/iot-abled-workplaces-enhance-employee-productivity-13962


Industry 4.0 - IIoT Technology - Industrial Engineering - Productivity Science - Research Opportunities



The development of green IoT technologies (e.g., energy-efficient techniques or approaches that can reduce the consumed power by sensors).
Internet of Things: A Review of Surveys Based on Context Aware Intelligent Services
David Gil, Antonio Ferrández, Higinio Mora-Mora, and Jesús Peral
Sensors (Basel). 2016 Jul; 16(7): 1069.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4970116/



Interesting Related Research and Issues


The Shaping of Ambient Intelligence and the Internet of Things: Historico-epistemic, Socio-cultural, Politico-institutional and Eco-environmental Dimensions



Simon Elias Bibri
Springer, 05-Nov-2015 - Computers - 301 pages


Recent advances in ICT have given rise to new socially disruptive technologies: AmI and the IoT, marking a major technological change which may lead to a drastic transformation of the technological ecosystem in all its complexity, as well as to a major alteration in technology use and thus daily living. Yet no work has systematically explored AmI and the IoT as advances in science and technology (S&T) and sociotechnical visions in light of their nature, underpinning, and practices along with their implications for individual and social wellbeing and for environmental health. AmI and the IoT raise new sets of questions: In what way can we conceptualize such technologies? How can we evaluate their benefits and risks? How should science–based technology and society’s politics relate? Are science-based technology and society converging in new ways? It is with such questions that this book is concerned. Positioned within the research field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), which encourages analyses whose approaches are drawn from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, this book amalgamates an investigation of AmI and the IoT technologies based on a unique approach to cross–disciplinary integration; their ethical, social, cultural, political, and environmental effects; and a philosophical analysis and evaluation of the implications of such effects.

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=YdjjCgAAQBAJ



Interesting Reports


The Internet of Things: Seizing the Benefits and Addressing the Challenges -OECD Report, 24 May 2016  (Management issues included in the report)

The Digitalization Productivity Bonus - Siemens Financial Services Report - 2017


Updated on 2018  -  28 October 2018,   18 January 2018,

12 December 2017




Friday, October 26, 2018

Jigs and Fixtures - Principles, Books, Manuals



Jig and Fixture Design is part of Process Industrial Engineering and Human Effort Industrial Engineering.

Jigs and Fixtures improve productivity of process, equipment and operators.

Basic Principles of Jig and Fixture Design

1. Reduction of handling time: Method of location and clamping should be such as to reduce handling time to minimum.

2. Rigidity: The jigs and fixtures have to be rigid. Cast iron which absorbs shocks more readily is recommended as body material.

3. Clearance between Jig walls and component: There should be good amount of clearance between component and body of jig to provide for variations in the dimensions of the component. Clearance is also required for chips to come out.

4. Swarf Clearance: There has to be clearance for swarf. Cored holes are provided for this purpose in bigger jigs.

5. Locating and supporting surfaces wherever possible be removable and be of hardened material.

6. Easy loading and unloading: The process of loading and unloading the component should be as easy as possible. In case of heavy components, it should be possible to slide the component into the fixture.

7. Clamping: Clamping should always be arranged directly above the points supporting the work.

8. Fool proofing: Incorporate arrangements that ensure that jig closes only when the component is inserted correctly.

9. Design for safety: Do not leave any sharp edges in the jig body.

10. Component should be ejected when the jig cover is opened.

11. Spring Locations: The number of locations on any rough component should never exceed three in any one plane.

12. Jig Base: A jig which is not bolted to machine table must be provided with four legs.

13. Accuracy and Variations: Jig design must permit only acceptable variation in the dimensions of the finished component.

14. Jig bushes: Jig bushes fixed in jig plates are used to guide drills, reamers and boring bars. They can be replaced when worn.


Locating and Principles of Location

A work piece in space which is free to move in any direction can move in 12 directions. To restrict the movement of the work piece completely it has to be restricted in all its 12 directions. Restricting the movement of the work piece in all its degrees of freedom or in some degrees of freedom is done by location in a jig or fixture.

Principles of Location

1..3:2:1 Method of location: A work piece can be positively located by means of six pins so positioned that collectively they restrict the work piece in nine of its degrees of freedom. 3 pins are in one plane, 2 in a plane perpendicular to it and one in a plan perpendicular as well as adjacent to both of the planes.

2. Points more than necessary should not be used in any plane.

3. Principle of extreme position of locating points.

4. The principle of mutually perpendicular planes.

5. Location for accuracy

6. Small locating surfaces

7. Replacement facilitation

8. Swarf clearance


Locating Devices


1. Jacks and supporting pins

2. Cylindrical locators or locating pins.

3. Conical locators

4. Diamond pin locators

5. Vee locators

Clamping Devices

1. Strap clamps

2. Screw Clamps

3. Hinged Clamps

4. C-Clamps

5. Wedge Clamps

6. Quick acting nut

7. Toggle Clamps

8. Quick acting cam operated Clamps







Jig and Fixture Design, 1920 book by Franklin Day Jones
Archive.org link http://archive.org/details/jigfixturedesign00joneuoft



Tool Engineering - Jigs and Fixtures - 1922 - Alfred Dowd
http://archive.org/details/toolengineeringj024704mbp

Jig and Fixture Design Manual
Erik K. Henriksen
1973
http://ia700806.us.archive.org/25/items/JigAndFixtureDesignManual/Hendriksen-JigAndFixtureDesignManual.pdf

IGNOU Course material  http://www.ignou.ac.in/upload/jig.pdf


Jig & Fixture Design - Edward G, Hoffman, 2004
Google Book Link -
http://books.google.co.in/books/about/Jig_and_Fixture_Design.html?id=6UFhomTE8KYC


Jig and Fixture Design
Edward Hoffman
5 Edition
Cengage Learning, 01-Aug-2012 -  416 pages
https://books.google.co.in/books?id=KTIKAAAAQBAJ


Jigs and Fixtures of Machine Shop
NPTEL Lecture 33
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Lecture material for Lecture 33
http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/courses/Webcourse-contents/IIT%20Kharagpur/Manuf%20Proc%20II/pdf/LM-33.pdf

Design and Appliocation of Jigs and Fixtures -Lec 34 NPTEL
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Course material for nPTEL 34 Lecture
http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/courses/Webcourse-contents/IIT%20Kharagpur/Manuf%20Proc%20II/pdf/LM-34.pdf
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More Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOo2MCYPsm4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMrLFpXJsGA


Case Studies

http://eprints2.utem.edu.my/3116/  Press Rivet Clutch


Weld Fixture Design Lessons
http://www.weldfixturedesign101.com/

Related Videos on Weld Fixture Design

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Updated on 27 October 2018, 15 August 2013

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An Improved Effective Cost Review Process for Value Engineering by D. S. Joo and J. I. Park



An Improved Effective Cost Review Process for Value Engineering
D. S. Joo and J. I. Park
Department of Industrial Engineering, Ajou University, San 5, Woncheon-dong, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon 443-749, Republic of Korea
The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 682051, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/682051
Copyright © 2014 D. S. Joo and J. I. Park.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/682051/


Abstract
Second-look value engineering (VE) is an approach that aims to lower the costs of products for which target costs are not being met during the production stage. Participants in second-look VE typically come up with a variety of ideas for cost cutting, but the outcomes often depend on their levels of experience, and not many good alternatives are available during the production stage. Nonetheless, good ideas have been consistently generated by VE experts. This paper investigates past second-look VE cases and the thinking processes of VE experts and proposes a cost review process as a systematic means of investigating cost-cutting ideas. This cost review process includes the use of an idea checklist and a specification review process. In addition to presenting the process, this paper reports on its feasibility, based on its introduction into a VE training course as part of a pilot study. The results indicate that the cost review process is effective in generating ideas for later analysis.

1. Introduction
Value engineering (VE) is a value-enhancing technique developed by Miles, of which cost cutting is a part [1]. It is a proven method for improving product and process performance by changing materials, designs, and systems and aims to maximize function while minimizing cost [2]. VE has been embraced by a global spectrum of businesses and industries, particularly in areas such as defense, transportation, construction, and healthcare [3].

VE has evolved to comprise three phases, which are sometimes collectively referred to as product development VE: (1) zero-look VE, (2) first-look VE, and (3) second-look VE [4]. Zero-look VE is the application of VE principles at the concept proposal stage. One of its objectives is to introduce new forms of functionality that did not previously exist. Once an overall concept has been established during zero-look VE, first-look VE focuses on the major elements of product design. The objective of second-look VE is to lower the costs of products at the production stage when target costs are not currently being met. During this stage, when products are already in production, not many good alternatives are available, and so companies are compelled to use second-look VE to lower costs.

Brainstorming is a commonly used method of generating ideas and has been adopted in VE in order to develop a wide variety of ideas in a constraint-free atmosphere. However, the ideas resulting from brainstorming in VE tend to be biased and limited, because participants rely on their experience in their areas of engineering focus [5]. In other words, experienced individuals often fail to explore other feasible, possibly better ideas in different engineering areas [6]. At the same time, it is difficult for entry-level participants to come up with many ideas without training, since they may have difficulty imagining and investigating ideas within their areas of expertise.

Asking questions that stimulate curiosity and creativity is a helpful approach to idea generation and makes it possible to be creative in a thorough and even orderly way. A written list of mentally stimulating questions can remind individuals of approaches and possibilities that they may otherwise not have had in mind [7]. A notable example of this can be seen in engineers’ use of the “eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify” (ECRS) method to discover potential changes that they can make to an existing product, so as to create a better one. These proposed changes may either be in the form of direct suggestions or starting points for lateral thinking. However, ECRS is so general that the process often ends up leading to interesting but impractical and uneconomical ideas. In contrast, second-look VE professionals tend to come up with small and simple yet practical cost-cutting ideas that lower the costs of products during the production stage. ECRS alone is thus not particularly well suited to coming up with second-look ideas.

In general, it is well known that the best cost-cutting ideas for second-look VE are associated with eliminating unnecessary or unused portions of functions or overspecifications [8]. VE professionals have typically been trained and disciplined over several years, with the goal of boosting their ability to generate such ideas. They learn how to come up with more ideas, how to analyze methods for developing ideas, and how to recognize good ideas, tips, and techniques. The thinking processes performed by professionals during second-look VE involve recognizing specification differences [9]. This enables VE professionals to think of new directions and generate cost-cutting ideas that can be accepted for further analysis. If such thinking processes can be formulated, it can be very useful for engineers who have difficulty generating cost-cutting ideas.

This paper presents a cost review process that was developed as a supportive method for investigating cost-cutting ideas in second-look VE. For it, we investigated second-look VE cases for 20 home appliances, and created an idea checklist that was specific to those product models. In addition, we developed a specification review process to explore cost-cutting ideas by checking whether specifications are appropriate or can be improved. The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, idea generation methods that are frequently used in VE are reviewed, with regard to their problems. Section 3 explains how the idea checklist and specification review process for this study was developed and applied. Section 4 presents the application of the proposed idea generation method to cases, while Section 5 evaluates the effectiveness of the method in a VE training course. The benefits and limitations of the proposed method are discussed in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 concludes with a summary and description of potential future work based on this study.

2. Idea Generation Methods
Much existing research on idea generation methods has focused on the goal of increasing the number of ideas produced, because it has been established that a direct relationship exists between the number of initial ideas and the quality of a final idea [10]. The main focus of such studies has been on brainstorming techniques for group-thinking sessions that increase the quality and quantity of proposed ideas for addressing a specific problem [11]. It has been claimed that group brainstorming is more effective than individual brainstorming, because mixing more different personalities into the creative flow results in a broader outlook in ideas, and the use of a facilitator to lead the session makes the process run more smoothly and removes potential bias [12]. As such, group brainstorming is the most common creativity technique used in the alternative phase of VE. Several books on VE, such as those of Fowler [13] and Dell’Isola [14], have presented brainstorming as the ideal creative technique for use in VE.

However, some VE researchers and professionals have questioned the usefulness of group brainstorming, claiming that it blocks the creative thinking efforts of a group [15]. VE participants are likely to experience the greatest difficulty during the process of idea generation. One problem is that participants tend to get stuck inside their own heads, in terms of their thinking and ideas, and do not exchange enough ideas through idea generation methods, due to perceptual blocks, emotional blocks, habitual blocks, professional blocks, or cultural blocks, which can hinder creative ability [16–18].

Individuals engaging in creative thinking should ideally engage naturally in a creative process that is as free of structure, rules, and processes as possible, but it is unlikely that a group will spontaneously do so in reality [19–21]. This is why applying a proven, systematic structure to brainstorming sessions significantly increases team productivity [22–24]. Al-Ghamdi [25] has investigated the necessary steps for effective implementation of brainstorming, and proposed a five-step procedure that helps to enhance the effectiveness of brainstorming implementation in VE studies. This study suggests that creative professionals prefer to use set methods to produce more creative results.

Asking questions to stimulate curiosity and creativity has proven to be a helpful method for idea generation, which shows that it is sometimes possible to be creative in a thorough and even orderly way. A written list of mentally stimulating questions can remind individuals of approaches and possibilities that they otherwise would not have considered. In such contexts, a checklist can play a key role in generating ideas [26]. Checklists can include ideas collected through previous experiences, so as to trigger team members’ thinking about solutions to a problem under study. SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate, and rearrange) is an acronym for useful approaches that can be applied as stimuli to make one think differently about a problem area [27]. The SCAMPER method can be used to ask questions about existing products, using each of the approaches involved. Such questions are effective in helping individuals come up with creative ideas for developing new products or improving current ones.

Checklists may range from general to very specialized. General checklists are useful for almost any VE study. They contain suggestions for rearranging, substituting, and combining existing ideas in order to develop new ones. However, specialized checklists are only useful for addressing specific problems. For example, a series of questions can be created that stimulates new ways of thinking about new processes or devices [28]. In such cases, however, ordinary engineers might limit themselves to considering the listed questions, without giving much thought to other possible alternatives.

Brainstorming is often more effective if it is combined with other idea-generation techniques. These include the Delphi method, the Gordon technique, the morphological analysis technique, and TRIZ contradiction analysis. Of these, TRIZ provides the most structured and systematic approach and can be best used to augment or replace traditional brainstorming as it is currently applied in VE [29]. This makes the integration of VE and TRIZ beneficial, as it facilitates the transition from functional diagramming to implementable solution concepts [30, 31]. The value in using these methods is in how they include additional thoughts that inspire participants and allow their minds to wander or make intuitive leaps. However, these methods cannot ensure that the ideas that are sought out will be found.

3. Developing a Specification Review Method
This study presents the development of a cost review process that helps to investigate cost-cutting ideas for second-look VE. Its main focus is the development of an idea checklist and specification review process. The checklist is created by investigating previous second-look VE cases and classifying them according to idea stimuli, while the specification review process is developed based on the thinking processes engaged in by VE professionals.

3.1. Developing the Idea Checklist
For this study, we investigated the second-look VE cases of 20 home appliances, including TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and peripheral computer devices. We organized 691 actual cases into eight idea categories: (1) material (213 cases), (2) form/structure (189 cases), (3) dimension (166 cases), (4) component (73 cases), (5) printing/coloring (45 cases), and (6) processing (27 cases). We created a checklist based on this classification by grouping similar cases and giving them appropriate names. As can be seen in Figure 1, the categories of material, form/structure, dimension, and component account for roughly 90% of the cases, while the other categories account for only roughly 10% of cases. Therefore, efforts to generate ideas through second-look VE should concentrate on these four categories, which describe the most frequently encountered instances.

3.1.1. Material
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These are the most frequently encountered ideas among VE cases. Their main concept is to meet prevailing functional requirements with less expensive alternative materials. Table 1 presents material-related idea stimulus questions, which involve replacing the currently used material with one that is less costly. Since these ideas comprise the largest portion of cost-cutting ideas, they should be considered a priority in the exploration of cost-cutting ideas. To use a lower-grade material for its own sake is a bad idea. Therefore, engineers need to have considerable knowledge about material properties. There are two types of material-related ideas. The same material of a lower grade replacement is one that (a) uses the same material, (b) is of a lower grade, and (c) meets functional specifications. A different material at a lower cost replacement is one that (a) uses a different material, (b) costs less, and (c) meets functional specifications.

(ii) Expression. The cost-cutting ideas in this category take the form 〈Category, Subcategory, Object (to object)〉, where (to object) concerns a potential anticipated object for a cost-cutting idea. A representative case of the same material of lower-grade replacement is the replacement of SUS 303 of a shaft with HIPS HB. This case can be represented as 〈Material, Same material of a lower grade replacement, Shaft_SUS 303 (to SUS204CU)〉. A representative case of a different material at a lower cost replacement is the replacement of ABS plastic of a cover with HIPS. This case can be represented as 〈Material, Different material at a lower cost replacement, Cover_ABS plastic (to HIPS)〉. If there is no potential object to be anticipated, this case can be represented as 〈Material, Different material at a lower grade replacement, Cover_ABS plastic ( )〉. More examples can be found in Table 1.

3.1.2. Form/Structure
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The form/structure category accounts for the second-largest share of second-look VE cases. The main idea of form and structure cost-cutting ideas is to eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify some aspect of the form or structure of an existing product while meeting functional requirements. Table 2 shows idea stimulus questions and cases that can be classified as form/structure cost-cutting ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce material or processing costs by altering a component’s form or structure.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of simplification is that of simplifying the comb pattern ribs of a friction holder rear by replacing it with simple pattern ribs. This case can be represented as 〈Form/Structure, Simplification, Fiction holder rear_comb pattern ribs (to simple pattern ribs)〉. If there is no potential object to be anticipated, this case can be represented as 〈Form/Structure, Simplification, Friction holder rear_comb pattern ribs ( )〉. More examples are found in Table 2, and some cases are illustrated with pictures as shown in Table 3.

3.1.3. Dimension
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce the size or weight of an existing product in order to cut material costs. Dimension-related features include thickness, length, width, height, and diameter. Reducing the thickness of a component is one of the most frequently used ideas for cutting costs related to dimension. These idea stimulus questions are shown in Table 4.

(ii) Expression. The cost-cutting ideas in this category take the following form: 〈Category, Subcategory, Object_(target value)〉, where a target value is a potential one anticipated. A representative case of cost cutting with regard to thickness involves reducing an inlay panel’s 0.25 t by 0.17 t. This case can be represented as 〈Dimension, Thickness reduction, Inlay panel_0.25 t (to 0.17 t)〉. More examples can be found in Table 4.

3.1.4. Component
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The major ideas in this category are meant to cut costs by finding lower-grade or otherwise lower-cost components as substitutes for existing components. The minor ideas involve reducing the number of components (e.g., PCB test pins, connector pins, holes) or their capacities (e.g., volts, memory size). These idea stimulus questions are shown in Table 5. To find proper substitute components, engineers need sufficient knowledge to find those that are cheap but suitable and available, while meeting prevailing functional requirements.
(ii) Expression. A representative case of the same component of a lower grade component replacement is the replacement of the 2012 cable of an SMD chip resister with a 1608 cable. This case can be represented as 〈Component, Same component of a lower cost replacement, SMD Chip Resister_2012 cable (to 1608 cable)〉. More examples can be found in Table 5.

3.1.5. Printing/Coloring
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The ideas in this category involve the application of low-cost printing and coloring methods. The basic questions in this category concern the possibility of applying low-cost printing methods or omitting coloring processes by using natural or the same (existing) color. Table 5 shows idea stimulus questions related to labeling and painting.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of lower-cost printing replacement involves replacing the labeling of an internal case with carved sealing. This case can be represented as 〈Printing/coloring, Lower cost printing replacement, Internal case_labeling (to carved sealing)〉. More examples can be found in Table 6.

3.1.6. Processing
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce processing time by changing a joint type, eliminating an assembly step, or reducing a processing step. Table 7 shows idea stimulus questions related to processing.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of lower-cost processing is the replacement of the screws of a main PCB and a boy frame with tapes. This case can be represented as 〈Processing, Joint type replacement, Main PCB and body frame joint_screws (to tapes)〉. More examples can be found in Table 7.

Table 8 summarizes an idea checklist that was created by classifying second-look VE cases according to idea stimuli. Engineers can work through the checklist in brainstorming sessions in which they examine a product for which target costs are not currently being met. They can answer the questions in the checklist one by one while examining the product. This idea checklist can thus be a supportive tool for reminding inexperienced engineers of various idea perspectives to consider. However, the list may not by itself be able to help engineers think of more practical ideas. A systematic process is needed to make ideas more practical.

3.2. Developing the Specification Review Process
For this study, we interviewed VE professionals who had 15–20 years of experience about how to find direction in cost-cutting ideas during second-look VE. We found that design specifications are used to generate, test, and evaluate design ideas, because they are essential qualitative and quantitative characteristics for setting criteria to be satisfied in designing a component, product, or system (such as performance requirements, dimensions, weight, or reliability). The review processes performed by professionals involve investigating current specifications based on the assumption that design specifications may have been decided without adequate review. This kind of thinking process can be very useful for engineers who have difficulty generating cost-cutting ideas.

Table 9 presents the kind of specification review process that is typically carried out by VE professionals. In the first step, the specifications of components are identified and recorded with drawings or approved calculation sheets. If there are no existing specifications, the specifications need to be established through the proper methods. In the second step, all relevant regulations are explored, such as laws, legal standards, environmental regulations, safety standards, or service guidelines. By looking into issues of who created the specifications, how, and why, more information can be obtained. If reasons and methods for creating specifications can be determined, they can help professionals understand historical approaches. If they cannot be determined, it can be concluded that specifications have been created without an adequate review process. In the third step, cost-cutting ideas are generated based on determining an idea form: 〈Category, Subcategory, object (to object)〉. This aims to find any potential problems that could arise from object to object and to determine how to overcome them. Sometimes, these ideas can be obtained simply by benchmarking.

Going through steps 1, 2, and 3 makes it possible for ideas to be explored and expanded on. This review process, together with the idea checklist, allows brainstorming to be conducted more effectively.

In summary, the cost review process consists of two steps: identifying the relevant subcategories within the idea checklist through a brainstorming session and then conducting a specification review for the subcategories identified as relevant. During the brainstorming session, VE participants investigate a product for which cost targets are not currently being met by going through the idea checklist and identifying potential subcategories for cost cutting. In the subsequent specification review process, they identify the current specifications, explore requirements and the issues of “who, why, and how,” and think of cost-cutting ideas for the subcategories.

4. Implementation
In the next step in this study, the idea checklist and design specification review described in Section 3 were implemented in a training course for the associate value specialist (AVS) program in a company. The AVS program is a certificate program for engineers who decide to become professional value engineers [32]. The program is based on a process known as a multistage job plan, which provides structure for value studies. The plan consists of six sequential steps: (1) the information phase, (2) the function analysis phase, (3) the alternative phase, (4) the evaluation phase, (5) the development phase, and (6) the presentation and implementation phase. The goal of the plan is to generate as many practical ideas as possible for later analysis. This shows that idea generation can be seen as the most important part of VE. This paper only describes the phase associated with the proposed method in the training course. Table 10 shows the appearance and component configuration of a handset used in this training. A hierarchical decomposition of the product or what is typically known as the bill of materials (BOM) is also shown in Table 10. Two cases were selected to demonstrate how the supportive method is implemented.

4.1. Implementation Case I
The proposed method was applied to handset cases ① and ② in Table 10, in order to demonstrate how it works. The function of the handset cases was to protect the internal parts of the handset, and their target costs were not being met. Few good alternatives were available, and so an idea checklist was employed to generate cost-cutting ideas. By checking the idea stimuli one at a time in a brainstorming session, four subcategories were developed by the engineers in the training program, as shown in Table 11.

In the second round, a specification review was conducted to explore the four subcategories based on specification data. The current design specification of the handset cases with respect to material is standard ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) V0. With regard to thermal characteristics, the regulations imposed on handset uppers are the UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories) and TUV (Technischer Überwachungs Verein) standards. The history of the design was explored, and it was found that the existing design specification involved using heat-resistant resin, as imposed by UL/TUV standards, primarily to impede fires in the phone line. The specification review resulted in examining the following idea form: 〈Material, Same material of a lower grader replacement, Handset cases_ABS (to ABS HB)〉 by questioning what problems you expect and how you overcome them, because ABS HB (hard board) has the same functional specifications as ABS V0, and is also heat-resistant.

The next subcategory concerned the thickness of the handset cases. The written specifications for the cases describe a thickness of 2.5 mm, as in the schematic drawing. However, the measured thickness of the handset was 2.8 mm, which was over specifications. The safety regulations imposed on handset cases dictate that they must not break under 5Ns impact. Furthermore, a review of the history of the handset design revealed that the existing design specifications had been set up without adequate specification review. The specification review resulted in examining the following idea form: 〈Dimension, Thickness reduction, Headset case_0.28 t (to 0.25 t)〉. It should have investigated the thickness needed to withstand the impact of 5 Ns. The application of an appropriate specification review process to the handset cases is summarized in Table 12.

4.2. Implementation Case II
Table 13 shows an example of idea generation for the PBA SUB-etc. MIC (⑥) and CFH (⑨) in Table 10, for a function in which an electrical signal is passed to the modular jack. Four subcategories were chosen from the idea checklist for further investigation.

A specification review was conducted to further explore the four subcategories in a systematic manner, based on specification data. The form/structure subcategory concerned the integration of the PBA SUB-etc. and CFH. In the existing structure, the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC were detachable at the modular jack, with the modular jack soldered onto the PCB-handset MIC in PBA SUB-etc. The safety regulations imposed on the CFH were unknown. The actual structure of the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC can be split. An examination of the history of the design revealed that the existing structure was set up by an engineer due to problems related to repairs after sales. Therefore, the relevant after-sales claim rates need to be investigated to decide whether the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC should be separated. The idea generated from this specification review was to examine the feasibility of soldering the CFH directly to the PCB-handset MIC without the modular jack, if rates of after-sales repairs were low or nonexistent.

The second subcategory is related to the length of the CFH. The existing length of the CFH was 300 ± 20 cm. The actual measured length was 305 cm. The safety regulations imposed on the CFH were unknown. A review of the history of the design showed that the existing specifications had been set without adequate specification review. The actual length is within the given range, meaning that the current length has been set appropriately with respect to the current specifications. The idea generated from this specification review was to examine the length of other commercial models in order to benchmark them for comparison with the current design specification. The application of the specification review process to the PBA SUB-etc. and CFH is summarized in Table 14.


Table 14: Specification review process for PBA SUB-etc. and CFH.

5. Evaluation
A preliminary evaluation of the proposed method for brainstorming was conducted by implementing the method in a training course, in order to determine whether it could be used as a supplementary method to help engineers generate ideas. We assembled ten brainstorming groups. Each group was made up of 4-5 persons. We introduced the purpose of the test and provided the method, along with the product. The experiment was conducted just after brainstorming, without applying the method. The results of the preliminary test are shown in Table 15.


Table 15: Preliminary test results for the proposed method.


The total numbers of ideas generated by brainstorming without and with the supportive method were 75 and 219, respectively. Through the use of the supportive method, the average number of ideas improved from 7.5 to 21.9, which is an increase of 293%. These results of the preliminary test result suggested that the use of the supportive method for brainstorming resulted in training outcomes that were significantly better than those achieved through brainstorming alone.

A most significant observation was made during the test. When running through the checklist, the leader of one group asked, “Taking this idea checklist into account, how might I check this specification? What effect will this idea have on the problem?” as well as other similar questions. The other members of the group answered the questions. We observed that the checklist stimulated the participants, who had trouble remaining alert during the brainstorming session in which the supportive method was not used.

6. Discussion
Our evaluation of the training effectiveness of the method showed that participants felt that it made positive contributions to their brainstorming behaviors. This suggests that the method reinforces brainstorming by providing a more efficient approach to generating ideas. However, our interviews with several VE experts revealed a somewhat different reality.

For our study, we also examined people’s attitudes toward this method. In a postexperimental survey, eight of 10 groups said that the method was either helpful (six groups) or sometimes helpful (two groups). Some participants informally praised the method, and one volunteered that the method was helpful for him because the idea checklist and review process smoothly guided idea generation. Another got quite excited about the effectiveness of the method and stated that he planned to introduce it to his team members, who work on home appliance development. However, some participants criticized the method, arguing that the idea stimuli such as dimension, amount, and size are well-known approaches in VE, and thus the method is only effective for entry-level engineers. For senior engineers who have experience in their fields, the method may even limit idea generation. Hence it is necessary that engineers expand on checklists with as many feasible alternatives as possible.

In general, a specification review is an important part of second-look VE. It provides essential technical details on the materials or processes to be used in developing a product that conforms to customer requirements. Product nonconformance is often associated with inadequate specification review. Engineers often set design specifications without adequate specification review due to a lack of time and information. Problems of this type can be avoided with a well-planned and managed specification review procedure. Therefore, specification reviews are a necessary process for further exploring ideas that need to be visualized by engineers.

7. Conclusion
This study presents a supportive method for supplementing brainstorming activities that do not play a role as starting points for second-look VE. The supportive method for brainstorming consists of two parts: an idea checklist and a specification review process. In the brainstorming session, engineers use the idea checklist to review a current product and come up with individual cost-cutting ideas. By listing each item, they ensure that none are overlooked in generating ideas. If some ideas need to be further investigated, they systematically review the specifications along with the idea checklist.

The proposed method was applied to a consumer headset to demonstrate how it forms idea stimuli and reminds engineers of possible ways to approach a problem or shape a solution. A preliminary evaluation indicated that the specification review method was effective in generating ideas for later analysis. Future development of this “ideating via checklist” method is planned, beginning by generating checklists for other products. This study can be used to help those who are looking for ways to produce new and better cost-cutting ideas.


Conflict of Interests
The authors certify that there is no conflict of interests with any financial organization regarding the material discussed in the paper.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea and was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (NRF-2010-0022344).

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Certification Program, http://www.value-eng.org/education_certification.php.Abstract
Second-look value engineering (VE) is an approach that aims to lower the costs of products for which target costs are not being met during the production stage. Participants in second-look VE typically come up with a variety of ideas for cost cutting, but the outcomes often depend on their levels of experience, and not many good alternatives are available during the production stage. Nonetheless, good ideas have been consistently generated by VE experts. This paper investigates past second-look VE cases and the thinking processes of VE experts and proposes a cost review process as a systematic means of investigating cost-cutting ideas. This cost review process includes the use of an idea checklist and a specification review process. In addition to presenting the process, this paper reports on its feasibility, based on its introduction into a VE training course as part of a pilot study. The results indicate that the cost review process is effective in generating ideas for later analysis.

1. Introduction
Value engineering (VE) is a value-enhancing technique developed by Miles, of which cost cutting is a part [1]. It is a proven method for improving product and process performance by changing materials, designs, and systems and aims to maximize function while minimizing cost [2]. VE has been embraced by a global spectrum of businesses and industries, particularly in areas such as defense, transportation, construction, and healthcare [3].

VE has evolved to comprise three phases, which are sometimes collectively referred to as product development VE: (1) zero-look VE, (2) first-look VE, and (3) second-look VE [4]. Zero-look VE is the application of VE principles at the concept proposal stage. One of its objectives is to introduce new forms of functionality that did not previously exist. Once an overall concept has been established during zero-look VE, first-look VE focuses on the major elements of product design. The objective of second-look VE is to lower the costs of products at the production stage when target costs are not currently being met. During this stage, when products are already in production, not many good alternatives are available, and so companies are compelled to use second-look VE to lower costs.

Brainstorming is a commonly used method of generating ideas and has been adopted in VE in order to develop a wide variety of ideas in a constraint-free atmosphere. However, the ideas resulting from brainstorming in VE tend to be biased and limited, because participants rely on their experience in their areas of engineering focus [5]. In other words, experienced individuals often fail to explore other feasible, possibly better ideas in different engineering areas [6]. At the same time, it is difficult for entry-level participants to come up with many ideas without training, since they may have difficulty imagining and investigating ideas within their areas of expertise.

Asking questions that stimulate curiosity and creativity is a helpful approach to idea generation and makes it possible to be creative in a thorough and even orderly way. A written list of mentally stimulating questions can remind individuals of approaches and possibilities that they may otherwise not have had in mind [7]. A notable example of this can be seen in engineers’ use of the “eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify” (ECRS) method to discover potential changes that they can make to an existing product, so as to create a better one. These proposed changes may either be in the form of direct suggestions or starting points for lateral thinking. However, ECRS is so general that the process often ends up leading to interesting but impractical and uneconomical ideas. In contrast, second-look VE professionals tend to come up with small and simple yet practical cost-cutting ideas that lower the costs of products during the production stage. ECRS alone is thus not particularly well suited to coming up with second-look ideas.

In general, it is well known that the best cost-cutting ideas for second-look VE are associated with eliminating unnecessary or unused portions of functions or overspecifications [8]. VE professionals have typically been trained and disciplined over several years, with the goal of boosting their ability to generate such ideas. They learn how to come up with more ideas, how to analyze methods for developing ideas, and how to recognize good ideas, tips, and techniques. The thinking processes performed by professionals during second-look VE involve recognizing specification differences [9]. This enables VE professionals to think of new directions and generate cost-cutting ideas that can be accepted for further analysis. If such thinking processes can be formulated, it can be very useful for engineers who have difficulty generating cost-cutting ideas.

This paper presents a cost review process that was developed as a supportive method for investigating cost-cutting ideas in second-look VE. For it, we investigated second-look VE cases for 20 home appliances, and created an idea checklist that was specific to those product models. In addition, we developed a specification review process to explore cost-cutting ideas by checking whether specifications are appropriate or can be improved. The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, idea generation methods that are frequently used in VE are reviewed, with regard to their problems. Section 3 explains how the idea checklist and specification review process for this study was developed and applied. Section 4 presents the application of the proposed idea generation method to cases, while Section 5 evaluates the effectiveness of the method in a VE training course. The benefits and limitations of the proposed method are discussed in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 concludes with a summary and description of potential future work based on this study.

2. Idea Generation Methods
Much existing research on idea generation methods has focused on the goal of increasing the number of ideas produced, because it has been established that a direct relationship exists between the number of initial ideas and the quality of a final idea [10]. The main focus of such studies has been on brainstorming techniques for group-thinking sessions that increase the quality and quantity of proposed ideas for addressing a specific problem [11]. It has been claimed that group brainstorming is more effective than individual brainstorming, because mixing more different personalities into the creative flow results in a broader outlook in ideas, and the use of a facilitator to lead the session makes the process run more smoothly and removes potential bias [12]. As such, group brainstorming is the most common creativity technique used in the alternative phase of VE. Several books on VE, such as those of Fowler [13] and Dell’Isola [14], have presented brainstorming as the ideal creative technique for use in VE.

However, some VE researchers and professionals have questioned the usefulness of group brainstorming, claiming that it blocks the creative thinking efforts of a group [15]. VE participants are likely to experience the greatest difficulty during the process of idea generation. One problem is that participants tend to get stuck inside their own heads, in terms of their thinking and ideas, and do not exchange enough ideas through idea generation methods, due to perceptual blocks, emotional blocks, habitual blocks, professional blocks, or cultural blocks, which can hinder creative ability [16–18].

Individuals engaging in creative thinking should ideally engage naturally in a creative process that is as free of structure, rules, and processes as possible, but it is unlikely that a group will spontaneously do so in reality [19–21]. This is why applying a proven, systematic structure to brainstorming sessions significantly increases team productivity [22–24]. Al-Ghamdi [25] has investigated the necessary steps for effective implementation of brainstorming, and proposed a five-step procedure that helps to enhance the effectiveness of brainstorming implementation in VE studies. This study suggests that creative professionals prefer to use set methods to produce more creative results.

Asking questions to stimulate curiosity and creativity has proven to be a helpful method for idea generation, which shows that it is sometimes possible to be creative in a thorough and even orderly way. A written list of mentally stimulating questions can remind individuals of approaches and possibilities that they otherwise would not have considered. In such contexts, a checklist can play a key role in generating ideas [26]. Checklists can include ideas collected through previous experiences, so as to trigger team members’ thinking about solutions to a problem under study. SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate, and rearrange) is an acronym for useful approaches that can be applied as stimuli to make one think differently about a problem area [27]. The SCAMPER method can be used to ask questions about existing products, using each of the approaches involved. Such questions are effective in helping individuals come up with creative ideas for developing new products or improving current ones.

Checklists may range from general to very specialized. General checklists are useful for almost any VE study. They contain suggestions for rearranging, substituting, and combining existing ideas in order to develop new ones. However, specialized checklists are only useful for addressing specific problems. For example, a series of questions can be created that stimulates new ways of thinking about new processes or devices [28]. In such cases, however, ordinary engineers might limit themselves to considering the listed questions, without giving much thought to other possible alternatives.

Brainstorming is often more effective if it is combined with other idea-generation techniques. These include the Delphi method, the Gordon technique, the morphological analysis technique, and TRIZ contradiction analysis. Of these, TRIZ provides the most structured and systematic approach and can be best used to augment or replace traditional brainstorming as it is currently applied in VE [29]. This makes the integration of VE and TRIZ beneficial, as it facilitates the transition from functional diagramming to implementable solution concepts [30, 31]. The value in using these methods is in how they include additional thoughts that inspire participants and allow their minds to wander or make intuitive leaps. However, these methods cannot ensure that the ideas that are sought out will be found.

3. Developing a Specification Review Method
This study presents the development of a cost review process that helps to investigate cost-cutting ideas for second-look VE. Its main focus is the development of an idea checklist and specification review process. The checklist is created by investigating previous second-look VE cases and classifying them according to idea stimuli, while the specification review process is developed based on the thinking processes engaged in by VE professionals.

3.1. Developing the Idea Checklist
For this study, we investigated the second-look VE cases of 20 home appliances, including TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and peripheral computer devices. We organized 691 actual cases into eight idea categories: (1) material (213 cases), (2) form/structure (189 cases), (3) dimension (166 cases), (4) component (73 cases), (5) printing/coloring (45 cases), and (6) processing (27 cases). We created a checklist based on this classification by grouping similar cases and giving them appropriate names. As can be seen in Figure 1, the categories of material, form/structure, dimension, and component account for roughly 90% of the cases, while the other categories account for only roughly 10% of cases. Therefore, efforts to generate ideas through second-look VE should concentrate on these four categories, which describe the most frequently encountered instances.

3.1.1. Material
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These are the most frequently encountered ideas among VE cases. Their main concept is to meet prevailing functional requirements with less expensive alternative materials. Table 1 presents material-related idea stimulus questions, which involve replacing the currently used material with one that is less costly. Since these ideas comprise the largest portion of cost-cutting ideas, they should be considered a priority in the exploration of cost-cutting ideas. To use a lower-grade material for its own sake is a bad idea. Therefore, engineers need to have considerable knowledge about material properties. There are two types of material-related ideas. The same material of a lower grade replacement is one that (a) uses the same material, (b) is of a lower grade, and (c) meets functional specifications. A different material at a lower cost replacement is one that (a) uses a different material, (b) costs less, and (c) meets functional specifications.

(ii) Expression. The cost-cutting ideas in this category take the form 〈Category, Subcategory, Object (to object)〉, where (to object) concerns a potential anticipated object for a cost-cutting idea. A representative case of the same material of lower-grade replacement is the replacement of SUS 303 of a shaft with HIPS HB. This case can be represented as 〈Material, Same material of a lower grade replacement, Shaft_SUS 303 (to SUS204CU)〉. A representative case of a different material at a lower cost replacement is the replacement of ABS plastic of a cover with HIPS. This case can be represented as 〈Material, Different material at a lower cost replacement, Cover_ABS plastic (to HIPS)〉. If there is no potential object to be anticipated, this case can be represented as 〈Material, Different material at a lower grade replacement, Cover_ABS plastic ( )〉. More examples can be found in Table 1.

3.1.2. Form/Structure
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The form/structure category accounts for the second-largest share of second-look VE cases. The main idea of form and structure cost-cutting ideas is to eliminate, combine, rearrange, and simplify some aspect of the form or structure of an existing product while meeting functional requirements. Table 2 shows idea stimulus questions and cases that can be classified as form/structure cost-cutting ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce material or processing costs by altering a component’s form or structure.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of simplification is that of simplifying the comb pattern ribs of a friction holder rear by replacing it with simple pattern ribs. This case can be represented as 〈Form/Structure, Simplification, Fiction holder rear_comb pattern ribs (to simple pattern ribs)〉. If there is no potential object to be anticipated, this case can be represented as 〈Form/Structure, Simplification, Friction holder rear_comb pattern ribs ( )〉. More examples are found in Table 2, and some cases are illustrated with pictures as shown in Table 3.

3.1.3. Dimension
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce the size or weight of an existing product in order to cut material costs. Dimension-related features include thickness, length, width, height, and diameter. Reducing the thickness of a component is one of the most frequently used ideas for cutting costs related to dimension. These idea stimulus questions are shown in Table 4.

(ii) Expression. The cost-cutting ideas in this category take the following form: 〈Category, Subcategory, Object_(target value)〉, where a target value is a potential one anticipated. A representative case of cost cutting with regard to thickness involves reducing an inlay panel’s 0.25 t by 0.17 t. This case can be represented as 〈Dimension, Thickness reduction, Inlay panel_0.25 t (to 0.17 t)〉. More examples can be found in Table 4.

3.1.4. Component
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The major ideas in this category are meant to cut costs by finding lower-grade or otherwise lower-cost components as substitutes for existing components. The minor ideas involve reducing the number of components (e.g., PCB test pins, connector pins, holes) or their capacities (e.g., volts, memory size). These idea stimulus questions are shown in Table 5. To find proper substitute components, engineers need sufficient knowledge to find those that are cheap but suitable and available, while meeting prevailing functional requirements.
(ii) Expression. A representative case of the same component of a lower grade component replacement is the replacement of the 2012 cable of an SMD chip resister with a 1608 cable. This case can be represented as 〈Component, Same component of a lower cost replacement, SMD Chip Resister_2012 cable (to 1608 cable)〉. More examples can be found in Table 5.

3.1.5. Printing/Coloring
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. The ideas in this category involve the application of low-cost printing and coloring methods. The basic questions in this category concern the possibility of applying low-cost printing methods or omitting coloring processes by using natural or the same (existing) color. Table 5 shows idea stimulus questions related to labeling and painting.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of lower-cost printing replacement involves replacing the labeling of an internal case with carved sealing. This case can be represented as 〈Printing/coloring, Lower cost printing replacement, Internal case_labeling (to carved sealing)〉. More examples can be found in Table 6.

3.1.6. Processing
(i) Cost-Cutting Ideas. These ideas are meant to reduce processing time by changing a joint type, eliminating an assembly step, or reducing a processing step. Table 7 shows idea stimulus questions related to processing.

(ii) Expression. A representative case of lower-cost processing is the replacement of the screws of a main PCB and a boy frame with tapes. This case can be represented as 〈Processing, Joint type replacement, Main PCB and body frame joint_screws (to tapes)〉. More examples can be found in Table 7.

Table 8 summarizes an idea checklist that was created by classifying second-look VE cases according to idea stimuli. Engineers can work through the checklist in brainstorming sessions in which they examine a product for which target costs are not currently being met. They can answer the questions in the checklist one by one while examining the product. This idea checklist can thus be a supportive tool for reminding inexperienced engineers of various idea perspectives to consider. However, the list may not by itself be able to help engineers think of more practical ideas. A systematic process is needed to make ideas more practical.

3.2. Developing the Specification Review Process
For this study, we interviewed VE professionals who had 15–20 years of experience about how to find direction in cost-cutting ideas during second-look VE. We found that design specifications are used to generate, test, and evaluate design ideas, because they are essential qualitative and quantitative characteristics for setting criteria to be satisfied in designing a component, product, or system (such as performance requirements, dimensions, weight, or reliability). The review processes performed by professionals involve investigating current specifications based on the assumption that design specifications may have been decided without adequate review. This kind of thinking process can be very useful for engineers who have difficulty generating cost-cutting ideas.

Table 9 presents the kind of specification review process that is typically carried out by VE professionals. In the first step, the specifications of components are identified and recorded with drawings or approved calculation sheets. If there are no existing specifications, the specifications need to be established through the proper methods. In the second step, all relevant regulations are explored, such as laws, legal standards, environmental regulations, safety standards, or service guidelines. By looking into issues of who created the specifications, how, and why, more information can be obtained. If reasons and methods for creating specifications can be determined, they can help professionals understand historical approaches. If they cannot be determined, it can be concluded that specifications have been created without an adequate review process. In the third step, cost-cutting ideas are generated based on determining an idea form: 〈Category, Subcategory, object (to object)〉. This aims to find any potential problems that could arise from object to object and to determine how to overcome them. Sometimes, these ideas can be obtained simply by benchmarking.

Going through steps 1, 2, and 3 makes it possible for ideas to be explored and expanded on. This review process, together with the idea checklist, allows brainstorming to be conducted more effectively.

In summary, the cost review process consists of two steps: identifying the relevant subcategories within the idea checklist through a brainstorming session and then conducting a specification review for the subcategories identified as relevant. During the brainstorming session, VE participants investigate a product for which cost targets are not currently being met by going through the idea checklist and identifying potential subcategories for cost cutting. In the subsequent specification review process, they identify the current specifications, explore requirements and the issues of “who, why, and how,” and think of cost-cutting ideas for the subcategories.

4. Implementation
In the next step in this study, the idea checklist and design specification review described in Section 3 were implemented in a training course for the associate value specialist (AVS) program in a company. The AVS program is a certificate program for engineers who decide to become professional value engineers [32]. The program is based on a process known as a multistage job plan, which provides structure for value studies. The plan consists of six sequential steps: (1) the information phase, (2) the function analysis phase, (3) the alternative phase, (4) the evaluation phase, (5) the development phase, and (6) the presentation and implementation phase. The goal of the plan is to generate as many practical ideas as possible for later analysis. This shows that idea generation can be seen as the most important part of VE. This paper only describes the phase associated with the proposed method in the training course. Table 10 shows the appearance and component configuration of a handset used in this training. A hierarchical decomposition of the product or what is typically known as the bill of materials (BOM) is also shown in Table 10. Two cases were selected to demonstrate how the supportive method is implemented.

4.1. Implementation Case I
The proposed method was applied to handset cases ① and ② in Table 10, in order to demonstrate how it works. The function of the handset cases was to protect the internal parts of the handset, and their target costs were not being met. Few good alternatives were available, and so an idea checklist was employed to generate cost-cutting ideas. By checking the idea stimuli one at a time in a brainstorming session, four subcategories were developed by the engineers in the training program, as shown in Table 11.

In the second round, a specification review was conducted to explore the four subcategories based on specification data. The current design specification of the handset cases with respect to material is standard ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) V0. With regard to thermal characteristics, the regulations imposed on handset uppers are the UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories) and TUV (Technischer Überwachungs Verein) standards. The history of the design was explored, and it was found that the existing design specification involved using heat-resistant resin, as imposed by UL/TUV standards, primarily to impede fires in the phone line. The specification review resulted in examining the following idea form: 〈Material, Same material of a lower grader replacement, Handset cases_ABS (to ABS HB)〉 by questioning what problems you expect and how you overcome them, because ABS HB (hard board) has the same functional specifications as ABS V0, and is also heat-resistant.

The next subcategory concerned the thickness of the handset cases. The written specifications for the cases describe a thickness of 2.5 mm, as in the schematic drawing. However, the measured thickness of the handset was 2.8 mm, which was over specifications. The safety regulations imposed on handset cases dictate that they must not break under 5Ns impact. Furthermore, a review of the history of the handset design revealed that the existing design specifications had been set up without adequate specification review. The specification review resulted in examining the following idea form: 〈Dimension, Thickness reduction, Headset case_0.28 t (to 0.25 t)〉. It should have investigated the thickness needed to withstand the impact of 5 Ns. The application of an appropriate specification review process to the handset cases is summarized in Table 12.

4.2. Implementation Case II
Table 13 shows an example of idea generation for the PBA SUB-etc. MIC (⑥) and CFH (⑨) in Table 10, for a function in which an electrical signal is passed to the modular jack. Four subcategories were chosen from the idea checklist for further investigation.

A specification review was conducted to further explore the four subcategories in a systematic manner, based on specification data. The form/structure subcategory concerned the integration of the PBA SUB-etc. and CFH. In the existing structure, the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC were detachable at the modular jack, with the modular jack soldered onto the PCB-handset MIC in PBA SUB-etc. The safety regulations imposed on the CFH were unknown. The actual structure of the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC can be split. An examination of the history of the design revealed that the existing structure was set up by an engineer due to problems related to repairs after sales. Therefore, the relevant after-sales claim rates need to be investigated to decide whether the CFH and the PCB-handset MIC should be separated. The idea generated from this specification review was to examine the feasibility of soldering the CFH directly to the PCB-handset MIC without the modular jack, if rates of after-sales repairs were low or nonexistent.

The second subcategory is related to the length of the CFH. The existing length of the CFH was 300 ± 20 cm. The actual measured length was 305 cm. The safety regulations imposed on the CFH were unknown. A review of the history of the design showed that the existing specifications had been set without adequate specification review. The actual length is within the given range, meaning that the current length has been set appropriately with respect to the current specifications. The idea generated from this specification review was to examine the length of other commercial models in order to benchmark them for comparison with the current design specification. The application of the specification review process to the PBA SUB-etc. and CFH is summarized in Table 14.

tab14
Table 14: Specification review process for PBA SUB-etc. and CFH.
5. Evaluation
A preliminary evaluation of the proposed method for brainstorming was conducted by implementing the method in a training course, in order to determine whether it could be used as a supplementary method to help engineers generate ideas. We assembled ten brainstorming groups. Each group was made up of 4-5 persons. We introduced the purpose of the test and provided the method, along with the product. The experiment was conducted just after brainstorming, without applying the method. The results of the preliminary test are shown in Table 15.

tab15
Table 15: Preliminary test results for the proposed method.
The total numbers of ideas generated by brainstorming without and with the supportive method were 75 and 219, respectively. Through the use of the supportive method, the average number of ideas improved from 7.5 to 21.9, which is an increase of 293%. These results of the preliminary test result suggested that the use of the supportive method for brainstorming resulted in training outcomes that were significantly better than those achieved through brainstorming alone.

A most significant observation was made during the test. When running through the checklist, the leader of one group asked, “Taking this idea checklist into account, how might I check this specification? What effect will this idea have on the problem?” as well as other similar questions. The other members of the group answered the questions. We observed that the checklist stimulated the participants, who had trouble remaining alert during the brainstorming session in which the supportive method was not used.

6. Discussion
Our evaluation of the training effectiveness of the method showed that participants felt that it made positive contributions to their brainstorming behaviors. This suggests that the method reinforces brainstorming by providing a more efficient approach to generating ideas. However, our interviews with several VE experts revealed a somewhat different reality.

For our study, we also examined people’s attitudes toward this method. In a postexperimental survey, eight of 10 groups said that the method was either helpful (six groups) or sometimes helpful (two groups). Some participants informally praised the method, and one volunteered that the method was helpful for him because the idea checklist and review process smoothly guided idea generation. Another got quite excited about the effectiveness of the method and stated that he planned to introduce it to his team members, who work on home appliance development. However, some participants criticized the method, arguing that the idea stimuli such as dimension, amount, and size are well-known approaches in VE, and thus the method is only effective for entry-level engineers. For senior engineers who have experience in their fields, the method may even limit idea generation. Hence it is necessary that engineers expand on checklists with as many feasible alternatives as possible.

In general, a specification review is an important part of second-look VE. It provides essential technical details on the materials or processes to be used in developing a product that conforms to customer requirements. Product nonconformance is often associated with inadequate specification review. Engineers often set design specifications without adequate specification review due to a lack of time and information. Problems of this type can be avoided with a well-planned and managed specification review procedure. Therefore, specification reviews are a necessary process for further exploring ideas that need to be visualized by engineers.

7. Conclusion
This study presents a supportive method for supplementing brainstorming activities that do not play a role as starting points for second-look VE. The supportive method for brainstorming consists of two parts: an idea checklist and a specification review process. In the brainstorming session, engineers use the idea checklist to review a current product and come up with individual cost-cutting ideas. By listing each item, they ensure that none are overlooked in generating ideas. If some ideas need to be further investigated, they systematically review the specifications along with the idea checklist.

The proposed method was applied to a consumer headset to demonstrate how it forms idea stimuli and reminds engineers of possible ways to approach a problem or shape a solution. A preliminary evaluation indicated that the specification review method was effective in generating ideas for later analysis. Future development of this “ideating via checklist” method is planned, beginning by generating checklists for other products. This study can be used to help those who are looking for ways to produce new and better cost-cutting ideas.


Conflict of Interests
The authors certify that there is no conflict of interests with any financial organization regarding the material discussed in the paper.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea and was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (NRF-2010-0022344).

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